Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Matt Manochio's #Sentinels - Guest Post

Researching History for My Horror Novel

History can be tricky. You don’t want to get it wrong. Throwaway lines—even one word—can expose a flaw in your research or lack thereof.

I set my new novel, Sentinels, in post-Civil War South Carolina. It’s a rough place. The KKK is killing freedmen and their supporters. Northern soldiers are dispatched to keep the peace in the South. Oh, and there are supernatural forces going around killing both sides, and nobody can figure out why.

People die. Which leads to the question: How were funerals held in the 1870s? What were the customs? What tools were used? Well, the mortician traveled to your place (assuming you died and your viewing is being held at your home, where your spouse lives). That’s right. They fixed you up right there in your sitting room. Oh, and superstitions at the time involved shrouding mirrors, windows, even doorknobs, in black cloth. (Seeing your reflection in a room with a dead body can be bad, apparently.)

Some people might find research annoying. I dig it. I majored in history in college, and even though my fascination lies with WWII (I’m more a fan of modern history), life in the decade following the Civil War was horrendous in the United States. That’s a period of time that many people know little about. I was one of them until writing Sentinels.

First, I had no idea there were five military districts, manned by Northern soldiers, scattered throughout the South to ensure stability. (When you think about it, it makes sense. I mean, we left troops in Germany, Japan and South Korea following war.) But just that one realization helped shape the course of Sentinels. And it’s great when that happens.

And what kind of horse carriages did people operate back in the 1870s? How were outhouses physically built and how far back were they situated from the living quarters? What were the most commonly used firearms? How much did an acre of land cost?

As I said, even throwaway lines can get you in trouble. I mentioned that a character put on a T-shirt and was informed by a reviewer that T-shirts, as we know them, weren’t invented until the 1900s. Words matter in that regard. Undershirt probably would’ve been a better choice.

Such are the perils of writing historical fiction. But those little details matter, even if a large part of your story involves creepy things that physically cannot happen.

About the book
These are no ordinary killers.

They don't distinguish between good and evil. They just kill. South Carolina's a ruthless place after the Civil War. And when Sheriff's Deputy Noah Chandler finds seven Ku Klux Klansmen and two Northern soldiers massacred along a road, he cannot imagine who would murder these two diametrically opposed forces.

When a surviving Klansman babbles about wraiths, and is later murdered inside a heavily guarded jail cell, Noah realizes something sinister stalks his town. He believes a freed slave who's trying to protect his farm from a merciless land baron can help unmask the killers. Soon Noah will have to personally confront the things good men must do to protect their loved ones from evil.

About the author
Matt Manochio was born in 1975 in New Jersey and graduated from The University of Delaware in 1997 with a history/journalism degree.

He spent the majority of his 13-year newspaper career at the Daily Record in Morris County, New Jersey, where he won multiple New Jersey Press Association Awards for his reporting. He wrote about one of his passions, rock 'n' roll giants AC/DC, for USA Today and considers that the highlight of his journalism career.

He left newspapers in 2011 for safer employment, and currently lives in New Jersey with his son.

Praise for Matt Manochio
"Matt Manochio is a natural born storyteller." -Joe McKinney, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Savage Dead

"A real page turner. Matt Manochio has gained a fan in me!" -David L. Golemon, New York Times bestselling author of the Event Group Thriller series, on The Dark Servant

"Beautifully crafted and expertly plotted. A clockwork mechanism of terror! Highly recommended!" -Jay Bonansinga, New York Times bestselling author of Shattered, on The Dark Servant

Purchase Links 
Barnes and Noble 

1 comment:

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  1. I like the research as long as I can find what I'm looking for in a reasonable amount of time. If I have to spend all day googling sources all because nothing's turning up, it get's frustrating. Maybe that would just mean it's time to ditch that story and move on to another. lol Good article. Thanks for sharing it.

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